Report on Etna (Italy) — 9 February-15 February 2022
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
9 February-15 February 2022
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2022. Report on Etna (Italy). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 9 February-15 February 2022. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
37.748°N, 14.999°E; summit elev. 3357 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
INGV reported that a notable eruption at Etna’s Southeast Crater (SEC) occurred during 9-10 February and changed the morphology of the cone. The eruption began with incandescence from explosive activity within SEC that was visible in webcam images at night during 9-10 February. Sporadic ash emissions rose above the crater. Lava began to effuse at 1520 on 10 February and flows descended WSW. Strombolian activity varied in intensity and frequency, though at 1700 there was a clear intensification. Lava flows continued to be fed and had descended S and SE to 2,900 m elevation. Strombolian activity transitioned to lava fountaining at around 2140, with fountains rising 1-1.5 km high, and ash plumes rising to 12 km (39,400 ft) a.s.l. and drifting W. Two pyroclastic flows, visible at 2140 and 2219, traveled a few hundred meters SE towards the Valle del Bove. At 2226 a larger pyroclastic flow expanded 1.6 km S and SE and covered the northernmost 2002-2003 craters, reaching 2,750 m elevation, and damaging a hut along the way. Lava fountaining ceased at 2300. The ash plume slowly dispersed W over the next few hours and the lava flow continued to be fed, reaching 2,850 m elevation. A new deep scarp opening to the SSW was formed during the eruption, overprinting the smaller breach that was on the SW crater rim. The new scarp was about 500 m long and had variable widths of 100-190 m. Weak and sporadic explosive activity continued from the lower part of the scarp. Tephra fell in areas to the NW (particularly at Maletto, 15 km NW) and as far as Sant’Agata di Militello (50 km NW) and Capo d'Orlando (50 km NNW), along the Tyrrhenian coast. At 1125 on 11 February a small vent opened at the SE base of the SEC, emitted ash, and produced a short, thick lava flow that traveled a few tens of meters SE.
Geological Summary. Mount Etna, towering above Catania on the island of Sicily, has one of the world's longest documented records of volcanism, dating back to 1500 BCE. Historical lava flows of basaltic composition cover much of the surface of this massive volcano, whose edifice is the highest and most voluminous in Italy. The Mongibello stratovolcano, truncated by several small calderas, was constructed during the late Pleistocene and Holocene over an older shield volcano. The most prominent morphological feature of Etna is the Valle del Bove, a 5 x 10 km caldera open to the east. Two styles of eruptive activity typically occur, sometimes simultaneously. Persistent explosive eruptions, sometimes with minor lava emissions, take place from one or more summit craters. Flank vents, typically with higher effusion rates, are less frequently active and originate from fissures that open progressively downward from near the summit (usually accompanied by Strombolian eruptions at the upper end). Cinder cones are commonly constructed over the vents of lower-flank lava flows. Lava flows extend to the foot of the volcano on all sides and have reached the sea over a broad area on the SE flank.